Reassemble – Chapter One, Part Three

“Welcome to the Ghostlands.”

That was not the phrase Vrykerion had wanted to hear after having such a wonderful night, but orders were orders.  He, along with Calowen and a dozen of other new recruits were ordered to report that morning to Dame Auriferous.  Auriferous was a red headed woman wearing a red robes and a tabard marking her as member of the defense forces at Tranquillien.

“I understand each you visited here once during your trials, but this is not a quick jaunt across the runestones to kill a couple of nerubians.  You’ve been brought here to go in the heart of the infection, Deatholme, for some mop up operations.  The Scourge have been harder to rip out of there than a dwarf from the pub,” Auriferous announced.   Vrykerion glanced over at Calowen; she had gone pale in fright.  Vrykerion reached over and took her hand in his and he watched as a smile grew and some of her color returned.

“We will begin launching attacks in groups of four from the Sanctum of the Sun.  You can drop your gear and take your downtime there.  Just don’t bother the Magisters.  Any questions?”  The group stood silent.  Vrykerion wasn’t sure if they didn’t have any questions, or everyone was too afraid of the forceful elf standing side by side with a forsaken deathstalker.  After a moment of silence, she dismissed them and they began to hike down the trail to the Sanctum.

The attacks really weren’t as bad as the Auriferous had made out.  They would leave in a team of four and clear out the Dead Scar up to Deatholme and then make precision strikes against specific targets inside the fortress.  The one group attacked a mausoleum, another struck a crypt, Vrykerion and Calowen’s first target was an underground laboratory.  Over a couple of weeks, they each met with success and everyone regrouped at the Sanctum to share stories, battle tactics and have a good laugh.  Vrykerion spent his evenings with Calowen or taking apart his pocket watch and examining how it works.  They were paladins, and they feared nothing.

It wasn’t until Vrykerion’s tenth trip into the fortress that he began to notice that the dead were getting fewer in number.  He felt a swell of pride at first knowing that he had contributed to it but something in his gut sat wrong.  Why were the forces in the fortress thinning out, when the legions of undead waddling across the Dead Scar were always renewed back to their previous day’s numbers?  His team made their way across the foul grounds of Deatholme, the sickening stench of rotten meat still filled the air.  They ascended the steps of a ziggurat, finding it completely unguarded and ultimately empty.

“This is wrong,” said Waeryn, one of Vrykerion’s other teammates; “There should be something in here. No one has been in this far.”

Vrykerion’s other teammates, Jolsin, smiled and let out a laugh, “Maybe they retreated.  Decided they couldn’t best us and just packed it up and headed home.”

Calowen looked at Vrykerion with a stern look on her face and he met hers with an equally concerned one.  She turned to Jolsin, “The Scourge do not retreat.”

Waeryn shifted nervously, looking around in fear of an ambush, “Regardless, the objective is complete. We cleared out the ziggurat.  We should head back.”

They looked back and forth amongst the group a few times, silently nodding along with the idea.  Vrykerion sheathed his blade, “Very well then.”  One by one they exited, making sure to watch every dark corner as they stepped outside.  That’s when Vrykerion saw it.  A pillar of green smoke coming from the necropolis at the center of the fortress, “Has anyone reported that before?”

Calowen shook her head, “No.  That most certainly is new.”

Waeryn looked back and forth at Vrykerion and Calowen, “No.  NO.  We did our job.  Mission complete. We are not going in there.”

“Oh come on, Wae-wae.  It’s not like we’ve encountered a single thing thus far that four of us couldn’t best,” Jolsin taunted, nudging Waeryn toward the necropolis.

“Cut it out you two,” Calowen scolded, “What do you think Vry?  It’s not our job.”

Vrykerion shook his head, “We’re paladins, Cal. It IS our job.”

Calowen nodded and drew her shield and mace, “As you say, sir.”

Waeryn, however, did not draw his weapons, “No. I’m sorry, but no.  I’m not getting killed going against the battle plan just because you two are sneaking off to fondle each other in the bushes every nigh-”

Calowen cut him off with a firm slam of her armored hand against his helmed face, “Do you want the Scourge to win?  For all we know they’re brewing up another batch of plague in there, ready to spill it out across the entire Ghostlands.  This is suspicious behavior and we don’t have time to wait until we report back and send out another team, nor do we have time to waste trying to pry your head from your arse because you have nothing to come back to base for – except your hand!”

Waeryn and Jolsin immediately drew their swords. Vrykerion chuckled, “Impulsive as ever I see.”

“Oh shush. You know you like it,” Calowen smiled, “Now let’s see about that smoke.”

The journey into the necropolis was similarly easy and just as worrisome.  The fact that so few undead were in the fortress, especially high ranking ones, just fueled Vrykerion’s fears about the smoke.  They cautiously made their way into the depths of the building though, making sure to check everything and everywhere for possible traps or potential ambushes.  One that that grew more obvious as they traveled deeper was that ever present smell of rotting meat was getting stronger.

Food for Thought: The Rebirth of the Sin’dorei

Can You Even Talk about Blood Elves without posting a picture of Fabulor?

If there was anything that I could honestly say that Cataclysm did that I loved, it was advance the storyline for the entire world.  Well, the old world at least.  There’s still some timey wimey whatever stuff going on in Outland and Northrend – but this isn’t about that.  No, this post is about the blood elves.  More importantly the complete and utter lack of story involving them in Cataclysm.  The same could be said for the draenei, but I don’t know nearly enough about them. So I’ll leave that to other bloggers.

But there was a huge missed opportunity for the sin’dorei in my eyes.  They could have become a major player in the new Horde.  Especially with the Forsaken now dead set on conquest of the Eastern Kingdoms, it will only be a matter of time before they have to cross blades with the Argent Crusade who have firmly rooted themselves in the Plaguelands, and with an army backed by a new font of holy power lying just to the north, one has to wonder if Lady Sylvanas would reach out to old friends in order to complete her mission to claim all of Lordaeron for the Forsaken.

But that didn’t happen.  In fact, despite the successful reclamation of the Ghostlands by a unified force of Forsaken and Blood Elves, there is little to no mention of their ‘friends to the north’.  Perhaps they fear the Sunwell’s possible effects on the undead?  Or maybe there is underlying mistrust after the betrayal of Prince Kael’thas?  Who knows.  The real question for me is more so, if the timeline for WoW has indeed move forward…  what exactly is going on beyond the forests of Quel’thalas?

What We Have Here is a Failure to Conspire

The question is really based on a small insignificant piece of dialogue from Wrath of the Lich King, where there were hints of a frustration in the ranks of Blood Elf society.  Despite Regent Lord Lor’themar’s decision to stand with their new found allies in the Horde then with the corrupted Kael’thas and his fel-tainted elves during the battle for the Sunwell, Ranger General Halduron Brightwing urges Horde players to not get involved with Lor’themar’s political scheming with the Grand Magister Rommath during the quest to reforge the ancient blade Quel’delar.

Political scheming? What’s this?  Is there something going on here?  Not entirely surprising since much of blood elven culture has been one of duality.  There is the seen – a simple tailoring shop – and the unseen – that uses demons and slave labor.  Even the guards seem to be on duty to prevent anyone from seeing the tears in the seems of the blood elf society.  The protesters in the Bazaar are quickly silenced and brain washed into behaving, the constructs patrolling the city shout off things like “happiness is mandatory”, and I will remind you that these were all occurred after Lor’themar assumed the role of leader.

Could it be possible that the blood elves are trying to reclaim their former glory through dystopia?   Praise the glory of the sin’dorei or be silenced forever?  It would go a long way to explain why Halduron would go the distance to make contact with the high elves during the crisis in Zul’Aman (much to Lor’themar’s dissaproval) instead of seeking reinforcements from Silvermoon.  If the man in charge of Quel’thalas’ defense is becoming distrustful of Silvermoon’s leadership, then I think we may all have cause for worry.

The Sunwell: Best way to roast marshmallows EVER!

The Eternal Sun Shall Guide Us

And there in lies a great opportunity to advance the story of the sin’dorei!  The fact that the leadership is scheming, inept, and resort to such drastic measures as brainwashing problematic citizens could indeed be reason enough for a revolution in the ranks.  But who would rise up against Lor’themar?  The Farstriders?  They are now too few, and stretched too thin to be of any use.  It would take a powerful force to rise up and seize the reins of Silvermoon.  Someone who commands loyalty from their soldiers, is respected amongst a number of species, who has battled their demons and come out with a new found respect for the Light and what it means to uphold its ways.

Oh for Brann’s sake, I’m talking about Lady Liadrin!  Being the leader of the Blood Knights, she commands a large and powerful force that is now rekindled by the rebirth of the Sunwell.  She is on a mission to the see the blood elves returned to their former glory, and she is a reformed follower of the Holy Light.  I could easily see her leading her paladins to usurp the Regent-Lord and uniting the blood elves under her.

After all, if the blood elves quench their thirst now through the holy energies of the Sunwell, a Light-centric society would make sense. It would also introduce an interesting concept of a theocratic government, which really hasn’t been touched on before in Warcraft. The only possible exception being possibly the draenei since their spiritual leader is also their faction leader and their society has a strong affinity for the Light, but can you really say the draenei have a form of government? I always say them as refuges, not an entire civilization.  Either way, a Light based theocratic blood elf government would be a fascinating angle to explore.  It would also bolster the story of the Reliquary who are searching for ancient arcane artifacts for more power.  Why are the Reliquary bothering with this if the Sunwell now provides what they’ve needed since the Burning Crusade?  If they had rejected the Holy Light and decided to seek out purely arcane means to cure their cravings and redeem their society, well that’s suddenly a much more interesting reason.

It would also go a long way to explaining why the Forsaken would not want to get involved with the blood elves.  After all, the energies of the Holy Light are fairly painful to the undead, and their reverence for the Forgotten Shadow would put them at odds with their former allies, and would further drive the Forsaken into more isolationist tendencies of wanting to rely on their own instead of the orcs, blood elves or even the Horde in general.

I really think it would be an engaging and fascinating change up for the blood elves in Cataclysm.  Instead we got warrior trainers and Lor’themar got a few new lines.  Wonderful.  Fabulous. Great.  What wasted potential.  Well, maybe the next expansion will do SOMETHING with them?

Rock Me, Asmodeus

What? No, it's not evil. That's my... lava lamp. Wait! No. It's my... well look... all the cool elves were doing it. (image courtesy of WoWwiki)

Where? Sunstrider Isle, Eversong Woods

This is probably one of the first weird things I can actually sitting at my desk and wondering about way back in the day.  They were so iconic of the Blood Elf culture, yet the Sin’dorei seemed completely oblivious to them.  It baffled me how you could run an entire society based on something and not know how it actually works…   Ya know what. Forget I said that.  I have no idea how anything more complicated than my toaster works.

Of course what I’m referring to is that giant green crystal that litter the landscape of Blood Elf territories.  Regardless of their allegiance to Kael’Thas or the recent introduction of a holy light powered Sunwell, these massive crystals are still employed around the blood elf landscape, probably because blood elves have a terrible time noticing really really bad ideas (I think it’s genetic).  The first this struck me as odd was during the first couple of quests a new blood elf will do in their starter area.

The general idea of the quests is pretty simply, the local wildlife (notably the mana wyrms, which are a creepy enough concept for me to stab them without hesitation.  Aren’t they like giant wriggling mana mosquitoes?) have been acting quite strange.  Well, anyone with a pair of eyes will notice that the mana wyrms are congregating around the giant green rocks.  You know, the ones with burning red eyes floating in them?  Yet somehow at no point does this raise a flag for anyone.  No one ever says “Maybe it’s caused by our giant burning fel rocks!”  Nope. Not once. Ever.  So what is causing it?  Oh, the scourge must be interfering with them.  Yes.  The not even present on the island scourge are responsible. By the light, blood elves tick me off.

So I kill the stupid wyrmsquitoes.  What’s next on the chopping block?  Oh, well, it looks like the cats that are wandering around the giant crystals are also acting weird.  I don’t even know why you have giant jungle cats wandering around your academy campus anyway!  Oh yes, these unobservant blood elves with all manner of wild beasties running amok aren’t just a bunch of fancy farmers, no sir, they are academics.  Sunstrider Isle is the home of the Falthrien Academy and the surrounding buildings, including the Sunspire that houses all of the trainers, I can only assume are part of the campus.

But there’s good news, a glimpse of redemption to these blood elf smarties, it seems that the ‘Burning Crystals’ are actually the ones causing the problem!  Oh good! You learned how to add one and one together.  So what’s the plan?  Destroy the crystals?  Research alternative power sources that aren’t evil? How about that holy energy?  I know it may take some work, but I think we can get Silvermoon to ‘Go Yellow’ with a clever ad campaign that demonizes those who rely on demonic energy.  I mean, what are blood elves about if not looking down on others for any possible reason?

Wait… what?  Oh.  So the plan is to just kill the cats instead.  Good plan.  I can defintely see that working out magnificently in the long run.  You know what, I don’t think the giant jungle cats are being affected by the ‘Burning Crystals’ at all.  I think you want these dumb felines off of your well manicured campus lawn and you want me to do it.  Lazy blood elf pricks.  I still can’t believe that you are even using those fel rocks.  At what point does that seem like a good idea?

Well, believe it or not, I’ve had people try to convince me that the crystals aren’t really demonic in nature.  That they use arcane energy, not fel magic.  This is not some blood elf NPC trying to swindle me into helping them because I might have some trepidations about working with a demon influenced employer.  No, the people (yes, plural) who have tried to convince me of this are other players.  Come on, people! There are giant glowing evil eyes floating inside the crystals.  The leader of the blood elves is sucking demon juice and bottling it in Outland.  By the end of the expansion, he’s not only actively working for one of the top demons – he’s got one of the little fel rocks stuck in his chest!

I am shocked that no one thinks that using these things was ever a bad idea.  I know that your magic addiction sucks, and it is more or less go cold turkey or turn into a mana vampire.  But downing shots of unfiltered demon dew (Extreme!) is not a solution.  The fact that no one is concerned about it and that your first instinct is to destroy the evidence?  This does not bode well for your society.  Don’t do the dew, crack is whack, and just say no to green stuff the big kids tell you is magical.

Don’t believe me?  Look at Grom Hellscream.  Now look at Grom Hellscream’s kid.  Do you see why you shouldn’t do fel magic now?  Yea.  Go back to sucking sunwell punch.

Okay, We Get It. Blood Elves Are Evil.

Eye of Saur...  Saltheril?
For itchy, red eyes - Try clear eyes. (It's hard to do Ben Stein in text)

Location: Saltheril’s Haven, Eversong Woods

Faction: Horde

Back when The Burning Crusade was the next big thing, there was a lot of talk about the Blood Elves.  They originally had scrawnier models that looked weak, so Blizz buffed up the models to look like… well… models. The other concern was with their attitude.  Were the blood elves bad enough muthas to actually belong to the Horde.  Blizzard’s answer to this?  To make blood elves as evil as humanly possible.  They were magic crack addicts, they stole holy power from a quasi-angel-deity-thing, they used slave labor, and they would exploit every single opening their enemies left to them.  Heck they were so underhanded that even their leader turned around and back-stabbed them.

But when I first played a blood elf, I had my own reasons for thinking they were pure evil.  Granted, I was a warlock, so I just rolled with it.  The tip off was hidden deep within Saltheril’s little party pad.  If you wander past Salthy and in to his little pavilion/house/hut/fab-pad, you’ll find an honest to goodness palantír from the Lord of the Rings.  While this wouldn’t be the first time Warcraft has borrowed from LotR, this is the first time a player race just hasn’t artifacts from it lying about the house the way you would a coffee table book or Hummels.

The only thing that makes this worse is the fact that the palantír seems to be permanently channeling Sauron and his ever Visine-starved eyeball. So essentially, even the most party orientated elf in Eversong Woods is rocking a constant video chat with the most evil being in Middle-Earth.  Not entirely surprising when Prince Kael’thas (who much like Princess Leia somehow never ascends the throne despite the fact that they are the only remaining members of the royal family) is making deals with one of Warcraft’s equivalents of the devil.

I wonder what other completely evil beings are making contact with the elves of Eversong?  Is Hexxus helping burn the trees?  Maybe Chernabog is chilling at the top of Duskwither Spire?  Maybe Miley Cyrus is hiding out at the East Sanctum?